I know that if I let go every holiday season and didn't make at least a few healthy choices, I'd be back to shopping for my clothing in the "husky" department. So here are some...

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I know that if I let go every holiday season and didn’t make at least a few healthy choices, I’d be back to shopping for my clothing in the “husky” department.

So here are some “pickier” choices you can make this year, whether you’re at a holiday party, family dinner or deciding what to eat from that holiday gift basket.

Alcoholic beverages

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The hands-down winner is Champagne. A 4-ounce glass has about 85 calories. Hot-buttered rum — made with butter and sugar — weighs in at about 220 calories for 8 ounces. A chocolate martini, made with vodka, chocolate liqueur, cream and dark creme de cacao, has about 440 calories. Lastly, eggnog has 340 to 460 calories per 8-ounce glass, depending on the ingredients.


Candy cane or chocolate


The candy cane wins at 55 calories (for a half-ounce cane).

What surprised me is that the chocolate-covered marshmallow Santa (180 calories for 1.5 ounces) by Russell Stover has fewer calories than the hollow milk chocolate Santa (280 calories for 1.75 ounces). The main reason: Although it contains sugar, the marshmallow is fat-free, and fat has more calories per gram than sugar (9 calories per gram for fat versus 4 for sugar).

However, if you’re looking to save even more calories, Russell Stover has a sugar-free Santa with only 90 calories, but it’s only 1 ounce. Yes, it’s smaller, but it will probably satisfy you — that’s the beauty of portion control.


Mixed nuts vs. sugar-coated pecans


Mixed nuts have 170 calories per ounce while the pecans, which are coated with sugar, have 220 calories per ounce. A few other stomach stuffers to think about: a handful of honey-roasted peanuts: 152 calories; 10 veggie sticks and a bit of dip: 76 calories; one handfuls of potato chips: 198 calories.


Dumplings, egg rolls or mini pizzas


Don’t let those mini pizzas go by — they might be your best bet among these three at about 35 to 55 calories each for a .5 to 1 ounce portion. Next best is a mini egg roll at about 40 to 50 calories for a .75 to 1.75 ounce portion.

Watch out for dumplings — no matter what they’re filled with, the calories can add up to between 50 and 200 each.

Some other appetizers to keep in mind: four mozzarella sticks: 431 calories; six Buffalo wings with blue-cheese dressing: 316 calories; four chicken fingers: 634 calories.


Stuffed brie vs. cheddar log

Stuffed brie is by far the worse choice at about 420 calories per 3 ounces. It’s made with butter, brie, phyllo dough (puff pastry) and often stuffed with some type of chutney or filling. A cheddar log, believe it or not, is a much better deal. For instance, Hickory Farms Cheese Celebration (a port and cheddar log covered in fresh nuts) has 240 calories for 3 ounces.


Ham, turkey or prime rib

Turkey is the best deal — white meat without the skin has about 193 calories for 5 ounces. Country ham is made with brown sugar, apple cider and red wine vinegar and has about 340 calories for 5 ounces. Forget the prime rib — it’s the worst of the three at 450 calories for a 5-ounce portion.


Roasted potatoes vs. asparagus


Three pieces of roasted potatoes (half a potato) have about 80 calories. Compare that with five medium asparagus spears cooked with oil or butter and topped with grated Parmesan cheese at about 105 to 120 calories.


Christmas cookies vs. fruitcake


At 325 calories for a 3.5-ounce slice, traditional fruitcake made with walnuts, cherries, raisins, pineapple and molasses and spiced with cinnamon and cloves might be your best bet because you’ll probably stop at one slice.

Holiday cookies vary in size and shape, but with the butter or shortening, sugar, frosting and sprinkles, you can expect the calories for a typical sugar cookie to be in the range of 50 to 120.

And a gingerbread cookie, also made with butter or shortening with the addition of molasses, is even worse at about 75 to 190 calories. And be honest — can you really stop at just one?

Charles Stuart Platkin is a nutrition and public-health advocate, author of the best-selling book, “Breaking the Pattern” (Red Mill Press, 2002), and founder of Integrated Wellness Solutions. Copyright 2004 by Charles Stuart Platkin. Write to info@thedietdetective.com